Playboy Bunnies, 1960s and 1970s – NPR

Another really interesting NPR story on women.  This article by Scott Simon on the changing perceptions of Playboy Bunny servers (think waitress, not The Girls Next Door”).  One of the most interesting parts of Simon’s essay is with Ex-Bunny Mary Chipman who began working at first Playboy club in Chicago during the 1970s.

Nancy Downey Caddick as a Playboy Bunny in the 60s. Courtesy of Caddick.

Although in the 1960s the men’s club attracted top entertainers, by the 1970s the club was denigrated by the women’s movement.  Chipman, a self-proclaimed feminist, explains how both the bunny ears and female patrons were degrading:

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“Ms. Chipman came in at a more feminist age. She loathed every aspect of the costume. “I really did. It wasn’t the sexiness of it, which was OK, it was the whole idea of the ears and the tail — I just thought it was very degrading.

“Once you make yourself into this Bunny — which isn’t really a woman, it’s kind of just this hybrid creature — people felt entitled to take liberties with you. People would feel entitled to pull your tail or touch you.

“Of course, the management would protect you from all of this, but you know, still, that was the natural impulse,” she says. “The usual social barriers of treating women with a certain amount of respect were somewhat dissolved by the costume, I felt.”

Ms. Downey Caddick found the most difficult customers to be the women, not the men.  “I would have a couple of incidents where a woman would pull my tail,” she says. “Another one would just continue to make all kinds of nasty statements to me as I’m trying to serve them.”

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Read/Listen to the NPR story here.

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